An estimated 31,720 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes from January through September 2021, an increase of about twelve percent, Axios reports. It was the highest number of fatalities during the first nine months of any year since 2006 and the highest percentage increase in the history of the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which has operated since 1975. The Department of Transportation projected that fatalities increased in 38 states, remained flat in two states and decreased in 10 states and the District of Columbia. "This is a national crisis. We cannot and must not accept these deaths as an inevitable part of everyday life," said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
The Transportation Department released the federal government’s first-ever National Roadway Safety Strategy last week, calling for better safety standards in vehicles, such as automatic emergency braking. Vehicle automation and assisted driving programs have been proposed as technological solutions to making roads safer, but those developments may be years if not decades away.